The Glass Gazette: December 2020


December 2020

Observe the Holidays Safely

This holiday season is unlike any other. As covid-19 cases continue to rise, the safest way to celebrate the winter holidays is to celebrate with the people in your home. As you can see from the county’s data dashboard, our case counts are increasing at an alarming rate.

As winter settles in, it is critical that we each do our part to slow the spread. Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles has issued an amended health directive that limits indoor gatherings to 10 people and requires a mask covering when you leave your home and are likely to come in contact with others who are not members of your household. Face coverings must be worn in businesses, office buildings and other establishments open to the public. This holiday season, please refer to the CDC guidelines for reducing the spread this holiday season.

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Legislation to Combat Housing Discrimination

Montgomery County continues leading the way to reduce and eliminate homelessness among veterans and chronically homeless residents. Most recently, the County expanded its focus to reduce housing insecurity for families and children. While we have made significant strides, the pandemic has further spotlighted the need to update our laws and make housing opportunities more fair and equitable. Black residents in the county are four times more likely to experience homelessness, and a recent survey showed that a majority of Black and Latino households in the county (55% and 62% respectively) spent more than 30% of their income on rent. It's with that in mind that Councilmember Sidney Katz and I co-authored the Housing Justice Act. Councilmembers Craig Rice, Nancy Navarro, Will Jawando and Hans Riemer are cosponsors. 

I’m proud that the Housing Justice Act has the endorsement of the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP because they understand the discriminatory history of housing laws and the generational effects that such laws and regulations have on communities of color and cycles of poverty.

The Housing Justice Act will help more individuals access housing by strengthening our anti discrimination laws. While we’ve made significant progress in Montgomery County, we can and should always strive to do better by our most vulnerable residents. 


Public Transit and Frontline Workers

WMATA has released a budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year that contains service cuts that would severely impact residents of Montgomery County and the D.C. region. Our essential workers — the majority of whom are people of color — rely on public transit to get to their jobs, with many holding shift work at hospitals, grocery stores and nursing homes. Access to robust and reliable public transportation is a measure of a community’s commitment to social justice and economic vitality.

With WMATA leaders projecting a $494.5 million funding gap, the agency proposed a number of cuts and changes for its fiscal year 2022 budget that includes less frequent trains, closing the system at 9 p.m. on weekdays, and eliminating all rail service on weekends. WMATA is in this dire position because the federal government has refused to approve appropriate funding for state and local governments, including transit agencies.

I joined my colleagues in renouncing proposed Metro service cuts' impact on minorities, front-line workers. 

President-elect Joe Biden loves to ride the train and I hope he will keep our trains and buses running for the residents who rely on them by working with Congress to pass critically needed covid relief measures. We cannot balance budgets on the backs of our front line personnel.


Providing Warm Meals

Many of our neighbors continue experiencing food insecurity, some for the first time. I recently visited a food distribution site in Aspen Hill run by Shepherd’s Table, which will offer 150-200 fresh meals for our neighbors in need. Shepherd’s Table will operate the distribution on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. at Parkland Middle School.

If you or someone you know is struggling to put food on the table, you can find out about other food resources at the Montgomery County food resource page


Young Local Hero Recognized

Congratulations to high school senior Nick Casertano, one of this year’s Montgomery Serves Awards honorees. Nick founded an outreach program that shares his love of LEGOs, conducting regular children's programs for the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH). The program provides children living in their facilities and other settings with a fun, creative outlet to use their imaginations. Since the pandemic started, Nick has moved the program online and was recently featured showing on WETA with kids at The Children's Inn at NIH. 

If you know an individual or organization who deserves recognition for their work in Montgomery County, please contact my office.


Constituent Corner

An elderly gentleman with health concerns reached out to me, worried that Comcast was going to shut off his phone service. This wasn’t just a matter of not being about to call people — the man has a heart condition which requires a pacemaker that is monitored through his phone service. Comcast had informed him that service was going to be cut off when the next bill was due on the 27th of the month, but he was unable to pay the bill until his Social Security benefits arrived on the 30th.

Our office reached out to Comcast on his behalf and they resolved the immediate situation and worked with him to change his policy to align with his Social Security benefits. 

If you or someone you know needs help accessing government departments, agencies or programs, don't hesitate to reach out to my office.


Did You Know?

Now that we are in the holiday season and are spending more time shopping for friends and family, please remember to be on high alert for consumer scams. The Office of Consumer Protection has tips to help you spot bogus shipping notices, how to safely make online purchases and general information on how to stop you from getting scammed.  

Make sure you stay safe this holiday season!